We are excited to announce the first of our scheduled workshops for this summer! As we get closer to summer we will be adding new workshops, so be sure to follow us on social media and sign up for the Station newsletter HERE.

Summer workshops at Highlands Biological Station are:

  • Great for beginning and advanced students – most have no pre-requisites
  • Hands on and engaging
  • Taught by expert instructors from a variety of backgrounds
  • Designed for adult learners

Alan E. Bessette, Ph.D. & Arleen Bessette, M.A.

August 19, 2024 – August 24, 2024

This workshop will focus on the mycological diversity of North & South Carolina, and the Southern Appalachian Region.

Daily field work will be combined with lectures/presentations (on topics such as, but not limited to, Identification Techniques, Major Groups of Fungi, Edibility & Toxicity issues) and laboratory/class activities where participants will be introduced to the use of field keys, microscopy, documentary photographic techniques, and more. Designed for beginners wanting a solid introduction to mycology, and for more advanced individuals wishing to pursue their personal mycological interests, this workshop facilitates learning in a relaxed group setting in a unique and mycologically rich area.

Registrations for this workshop are now closed.

Dr. Susan Moyle Studlar, Consulting Bryologist

June 25, 2024, 9:00 aM – 4:00 PM

This is an introduction to lichens and their ecology, with a half-day lecture-laboratory session and a half-day field trip through the wetlands and hardwood-conifer woods around Highlands Biological Station. Lichens are remarkable symbiotic communities of fungi and their photosynthetic partners (algae or cyanobacteria). Students will become familiar with different lichen growth-forms (dust, crustose, squamulose, foliose, and fruticose) and some common genera and species groups using a hand-lens, microscope, dichotomous keys, and recent field guides. We will discuss the importance of lichens to wildlife for homes, nesting material, and food, and also their roles in succession and the cycling of water and nutrients. The value of lichens as ecological indicators of climate and pollution, and their usefulness for dyes, perfumes, and medicine, based on extraordinary chemical diversity, will be briefly considered. The course is designed for students, botanists, naturalists, resource professionals, and others interested in an introduction to lichens. No prior experience with lichens is needed.

Dr. Paul Manos, Duke University

July 23, 2024 – July 28, 2024

The course is designed for students of all sorts, professional biologists, and amateur enthusiasts. This session will emphasize the local flora of the Highlands Plateau while serving as both an introduction and refresher on how to study vascular plant diversity.

Daily schedule and expectations: Lectures and workshop activities starting @ 9:00, including field trips often with moderate to strenuous hiking; lab activities include workshops on plant diversity, keying out species, including discussions on plants as often as possible; group activities and occasional lectures on mountain flora, plant communities, and plant interactions. Students are expected to learn in the field and lab through activities and additional materials.

Bill Jacobs

July 11, 2024, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

This workshop has grown out of Bill Jacobs’ book, Whence These Special Places? The Geology of Cashiers, Highlands & Panthertown Valley.  As reflected in both the book and his talks, Bill is particularly fascinated with how geologic processes, some dating back more than 500 million years, have produced today’s mountains and waterfalls.  He will discuss such questions as:

How did the rocks in our mountains form and get to where they now are, and how has that history determined the appearance of today’s landscape?

What created the high-elevation area we call the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau?

Little Sliding Rock and Glen Falls are both much-loved cascades on the Plateau, but one is so smooth you can slide on it and the other is a series of jagged precipices – why the difference?

What in the world is Shining Rock, and is there anything else like it in the world?

Why is Rock Mountain gently rounded while nearby Chimneytop has a chimney?  What gives Whiteside Mountain its unique character, with precipitous cliffs standing high above a more gently rounded base?

The workshop format will provide time for a richer discussion than is possible in shorter talks, as well as for questions and examination of rock samples and geologic maps.  To close out the classroom activities, Bill will provide a “virtual field trip” to numerous nearby sites, such as Sunset Rock, Glen Falls, Little Sliding Rock, Whiteside Mountain and Devil’s Courthouse, and the Cullasaja waterfalls, to help participants better appreciate the geology on display during their future visits to these special places. 

After lunch, a smaller group (limited to 15) will join Bill for an expedition to High Falls, below Lake Glenville Dam.  At this extraordinary site, participants can examine up close how different rock groups have been complexly mixed together, and how their different characteristics are reflected in both the exposed rocks and the overall shape of the falls.  (Note – this excursion requires over 600’ of elevation gain on uneven surfaces, as well as rock-hopping around the base of the falls.  It should be undertaken only by experienced, confident hikers).

 As in the book, Bill  will use language and concepts easily understood by non-scientists, with numerous photographs and illustrations.   He will also provide several handouts, and will be delighted to respond to questions, whether about the book or the geology.

Signed copies of Whence These Special Places? will be available for purchase from Bill or through The Nature Center.  Additional information about both the book and its author may be found at www.GreatRockPress.com.

Dr. Jim Costa, HBS & WCU

March 17, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

A day of exploration to learn about the ecology and curious history of the “lost and found” Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia) and see some of the largest remaining populations of this rarity at peak bloom in its native habitat!!

Our program opens with the tale of Highlands’ most iconic flower — Shortia galacifolia, the storied Oconee Bells! — a tale of botanical mystery, intrigue, and perseverance. HBS’s own Jim Costa will share the story of French Royal Botanist André Michaux and why he came to Highlands in 1787, and the ensuing century-long efforts by Harvard botanist Asa Gray and others to rediscover what became known as Michaux’s “Lost Shortia.” We’ll then drive an hour [transportation provided, own vehicle optional] to Devil’s Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee for a leisurely hike on the Oconee Bells Nature Trail, where we will see large populations of the fabulous Oconee Bells in bloom, followed by a 3 h pontoon boat trip with Jocassee Lake Tours to see little-known, remote populations of Oconee Bells at peak bloom in its native habitat! Along the way we will visit beautiful and remote waterfalls and coves of Lake Jocassee, learn about the history of the lake, and keep an eye out for wildlife and other early-blooming wildflowers.